Sicilian pastry is great! It has strong influences from the Arabic world and the basic component is almond, or "marzapane": a sweet paste obtained by almonds, sugar, egg yolk and "acqua di zagare", i.e. orange-flowers water. Pistache is also very important, as the area of Bronte (on the North-East slope of Etna volcano) is the only traditional producing area in Italy and the fruits are considered of the top quality.
"Frutta martorana" is fruit-shaped marzapane, painted with vivid colours. "Cassata" is a mixture of marzapane with wheat flour and candies and many more sweets and cakes. "Granita" is a special kind of ice-cream (possibly the mother of ice-cream), made with a sweet syrup with fruits juice or coffe: it is continuosly shaked within a freezing contanier, so that the final result is ice micro-granules with fruit/coffe taste in it. A typical summer preparation is coffee granita, which is a "must" anywhere in Sicily.
Bread is also very good, it is normally baked using durum wheat flour, and sesame seeds are commonly spead on the surface. I had a wonderful experience in a small - but delicious - place in the heart of Madonie, which is called Petralia Soprana. Go to the baker's (Maria Guarnuto - Via Collegio 9 - 0921 641685) and try her bread and her biscuits: they are wonderful!
The sea and the fish within .......
It is commonly believed Italians think about animals as far as they are good to eat: I cannot deny there's some truth in this... So, Sicily is a Paradise for tuna-fish lovers: forget about the canned stuff, it has no comparison at all with what you may experience in Sicily, where tuna-fish capture is an old tradition (now it disapperaed, because they didn't know about over-fishing....) carried on in the "tonnara" and culminating with a peculiar action called "mattanza". Nowadays, tuna-fish is no more as abundant as it used to be, but mr. Antonino Serio prepares wonderful tuna-fish with olive oil, it is sold in glass containers (look for his fish shop along Cefalu main street, on the right, i f you go towards Palermo). Finally, nobody is allowed to forget about "bottarga": dried tuna-fish eggs which are used to scrape over spaghetti, the same way Parnigiano cheese is used.
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